The Normandy Landing Beaches

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Genesis Rider

The Normandy Landing Beaches

Postby Genesis Rider » 20 Oct 2008, 11:35pm

Am planning a trip to visit the Normandy Beaches next year, cycling of course, does anyone have any suggested routes?

james01
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Postby james01 » 21 Oct 2008, 9:59am

Several years ago we landed at Cherbourg & coast-hugged eastwards, returning through Le Havre. It was about 250 km, plenty of time for sightseeing in a gentle 4 day tour, mixing camping with B&Bs.

Tony
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Postby Tony » 21 Oct 2008, 10:48am

Indeed, it makes a nice loop from Cherbourg to Ousireham (Caen) with a ferry at each end. It also goes with the prevailing wind that way.

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Millhouse
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Postby Millhouse » 21 Oct 2008, 11:15am

At the end of my cycle around France I ended up in Ouistreham. There is a very handy campsite only 10 minutes cycle from the port. The area is very cycle friendly and there are many war memorials and sites from the D day landings. It was a truly memorable place and I found it very moving.
Image
The photograph was taken near to Pegasus Bridge.

BTFB
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Postby BTFB » 21 Oct 2008, 5:15pm

Dont forget the inland battle areas as well, those are fascinating ...Trun, Falaise, Moissey ford...lot's of history there....around Moissey ford the ground is still stewn with bullets and casings...you just have to reach down and pick them off th eground in some places.

On the beaches I found Omaha the most moving...take a tide chart and visit at low tide. The tide comes right up to the sea wall and will detract from your visit.

Utah just along the coast is also interesting...the actuall landing zone there was where the visitor centre is, however about 400m west along the coast is where the landings should have been (according to plan) and that is where the old bunkers etc still are. Go inside the bunkers and get a real idea of just how vast the German gunners field of fire was there...also there are still remnants of the origional wall paint in there with the Nazi slogans evident.

The British and Canadian sector beachs at sword, juno and gold are worth a visit as well...arromanche has a very cool museum well worth a visit. Up on th ehill behind you will find the old German command bunker which was used to control the entire line att hat point. It was buried in dirt on the day but later dug out for the film the longest day. There are also lot's of gun batteries up there over looking arromance and th eother beaches.

In the port of Ouisterham you will instantly recognise the scene from the longest day which was shot on the actual ground th eaction was fought...with the commandoes running along the street and th eGermans running down from the clifftop trenches to meet them. Take some time to walk up to those cliff top trenches there, up past the old tower on the eastern side of the port...the trenches are still there.

Merville battery is well worth a visit...lot's to see, and you can really feel how important that place was to take out thta night.

Dont forget Pegasus bridge and go into the little cafe there that was the first building in France to be liberated...it is still a cafe and the same family still owns it I believe!

St. mere Eglise is a must as well...good museum and the chuch has a permanent memorial of a parachutist hanging on the steeple still..

If you go to Omaha Dog green you can cleary see jus thow good a job Speilberg did in saving private ryam in re creating how th eland lays there. remeber the scene with the mirror stuck on the bayonet with chewing gum and held out to see th emachine gun nest?...you can stand in exactly that spot and see that same wall in real on the beach there...( the action may well have been ficticious in the film but he cleary had visited that spot and re built it).

...there is so much to see there. I strongly suggest you read up on what happened, where and when before th etrip..if you havent already.

..anyway have fun, it is a memorable experience. I will go again.
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jake
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Postby jake » 21 Oct 2008, 11:14pm

Next year the anniversary of D-Day (6th June) is on a Saturday. The over-night ferry from Portsmouth to Caen (which leaves on the evening of the 5th) and arrives at dawn on the coast of Normandy is a wonderful experience. A friend of mine did it in the mid-90's and he said the ferry was full of people in uniforms of all types with some actual veterans as well. As he pushed his bike up the ramp he was passed by dozens of WW2 vehicles that just go over for the weekend.
He found that it enhanced an already moving experience. Apparently, very early booking is advised as it is extremely popular.

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Postby brianleach » 22 Oct 2008, 8:40am

By a coincidence this is exactly the route as far as Caen that I thought I would take next August as my weekend trip to recover from this year's disastrous August Brittany trip.

Looks like I shall definitely have to do it. I went to Normandy in 2007 and as has been mentioned already I am sure you will have an enjoyable time. I based myself in a campsite in St Luc about 6 miles from the ferry port and did circular tours each day.

I found a small Canadian cemetery inland from the coast particularly moving as looking at the many graves I noticed that most of the young men who died were about the same age as my youngest son. That really brings it home to you.

I had hoped to see the remains of the Mulberry Harbour but was little unwell on the day I chose and couldn't manage the distance but if I start from Cherbourg this time I should come right past it.

Brian

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Postby BTFB » 23 Oct 2008, 9:07pm

At Collville sur mere (Omaha) you can see the graves of the Nyland brothers...the real brothers that Saving private ryan is loosely based on. Also the grave of Roosevelt.

In the falaise gap there is a tiny cemetery...JERULSALEM cemetery , there you will find the grave of a 15 year old soldier.

One thing I found interesting was to carry a book with photos of 'then' and stand in the exact same spots 'now'.
Last edited by BTFB on 25 Oct 2008, 10:07pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Len » 24 Oct 2008, 5:30pm

CAUTION!!! I made my first cycle/camping tour earlier this year, from Cherbourg to Caen, and I absolutely loved it. I can hardly wait to get back and go on another French trip. As others have suggested, hug the coast and you will be fine. The only real problem was getting through Carentin and back to the coast road, the signs try and put you on the motorway. There is an adequate campsite just outside Cherbourg if you get in late and the second highest lighthouse in France a few miles on was also worth a visit. Enjoy.

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re

Postby peter236uk » 6 Jan 2009, 6:41pm

I am going to do a ride in this area in June I was wondering about campsites anyone have any list or web lincs that I would find useful.

I am doing caen to cherbourg

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3spd
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Postby 3spd » 8 Jan 2009, 2:58pm

We did Caen to Karenten (not sure on the spelling) and returned via Bayaeux, had a look at the tapestry, and Cruelly.

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Postby Cyclefrance » 8 Jan 2009, 4:44pm

I'm doing it with a few pals in June too! but we decided on Cherbourg to Caen (ferries from and to Portsmouth each way) - 3 days for the beaches and 4 days for the Calvados routes! Out on 6 June looks favourite....

Can't help with campsites as we alsways go the B&B method - use sawdays normally: http://www.sawdays.co.uk/maps/ (unfortunately it doesn't go straight to the region you have to drill down - Euro-France-Norm-Manc & Calv - it'll make sense when you do it!)

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re

Postby peter236uk » 9 Jan 2009, 12:59pm

Cyclefrance I think you have given me an idea while I want to the battle fields and pegasus bridge I also would like to have a look around the area so going to do pretty much the same as you guys.
Sorry for copying you but the Calvados seems a good idea as well

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Re: re

Postby Cyclefrance » 9 Jan 2009, 5:38pm

peter236uk wrote:Cyclefrance I think you have given me an idea while I want to the battle fields and pegasus bridge I also would like to have a look around the area so going to do pretty much the same as you guys.
Sorry for copying you but the Calvados seems a good idea as well


No Problem - if you end up going the same time as us, we may find an excuse to share a few shots of apple brandy together!

I found this website useful for the Calvados planning:

http://www.calvados-tourisme.info/loisirs/route.php?lang=gb

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Postby brianleach » 12 Jan 2009, 8:33am

I'm doing it as well!! but in August.

Not copying however as already booked my ferries after Christmas.

I did the Caen area two years ago but based at the campsite in St Luc Sur Mer which I can recommend. This has the drawback of restricting where you can get to as you also have to get back!

I wnated to see Arromanche but had a dodgy tum on the only day I could do it and didn't manage the distance.

Hopefully doing my first end to end will give me a chance to see a larger area hence the Cherbourg start.

Brian